11. Researching the Enemy
“Does nothing truly ail you!?”
“…Your Highness, aren’t you being rude, right now?”
I was having such a refreshing morning, but now it was ruined.
Every day, His Highness Sazanjill would ambush me, asking if anything was troubling me…
…I never realized he was someone with not an ounce of subtlety.
What was more, he lacked consideration as well. He had dragged Lumiere along with him.
…As for Lumiere, she was threatening me with her glare.
At such time, my title as the duchess was nothing but a pain because it meant I couldn’t ignore the crown prince.
“…You don’t have to concern yourself with me. Thanks to you, I’ve been cherishing every moment of my life.”
“That doesn’t seem like it—!?”
“Who are you to decide that—!?”
I quickly retorted, but then hurriedly shut my mouth. However, it was too late. Due to the apparent anger in my voice, His Highness was stunned.
Ahh, it seems that today will also be troublesome…
Aside from me, I also didn’t think it’d be good for His Highness…
“I see, yes, that’s right, you’re…”
But Your Highness? Shouldn’t you have figured it out by now? That I was sad because of the rumors?
Or, could it be, did he still not realize how his attitude could affect his surroundings?
He shouldn’t be so thoughtless that he couldn’t understand that.
…Although, as far as I could remember, I never recalled him acting as a proper fiancé.
Hence, that was naïve of me.
Also, if he were to stare at me with puppy eyes, there was no way I could resist being kind to him.
“…By the way, I have a problem.”
“What!? What is it?! You can talk to me!! I’ll help you with anything!!”
You’re too close, too close…
Please don’t suddenly approach me like that.
I meant, even Lumiere is pulling your arm back.
Well, as long as he felt better, I’d rely on him with a smile.
“I’d appreciate if you could introduce me to someone familiar with farm work.”
“Recently, my whole family has started farming at home. We do our best to study, but the crops just won’t sprout. So, I’d appreciate if you could introduce me to a specialist.”
“…But, your family has a gardener, right?”
“Well, of course. But his specialty is growing flowers in the flowerbed. That’s different from creating a field from scratch using hard soil.”
“Wait, are you trying to make a vegetable garden?”
“Of course not—I want to make a farm. My goal is for my family to be self-sufficient so that we can trade with the people of our territory!”
“What kind of goal is a duke of the kingdom trying to realize here!?”
I’m sorry, Your Highness.
Just so you know, my family, the Elcage Family, is a family that will give their everything once they set their mind upon something.
Although, my real purpose was so that my family could be independent later once they fell into ruin. That was a secret between the god and I, though.
When I furrowed my eyebrows while asking “You can’t?”
His Highness frowned, “Gununu…” Then, while staring at Lumiere, “If I recall correctly, in your mother’s birthplace, there’s a person called Baron Aljerk.”
Lumiere, c’mon, now…
It may come off as a surprise, but for her to suddenly raise her voice towards His Highness… that was just uncouth. After school, I’d need to discipline her again.
Towards my gaze, Lumiere’s expression stiffened. However, without noticing it, His Highness resumed his explanation.
“The territory governed by Baron Aljerk flourishes through agriculture, and the baron himself does his own research. Can you request the baron’s help? You can use my name.”
At his suggestion, Lumiere stared alternately between me and the prince.
I immediately smirked—
After all, Lumiere couldn’t turn down His Highness’ request.
To have the ability to make such an aristocratic judgement, I felt a bit happy.
Afterwards, our conversation quickly spread throughout the entire school.
“I heard about it. You grew tired of sword training, so now you’re planning to grow a field.”
During lunch break, when I went to His Highness Zafield for sword practice, he asked me that.
“Then, are you going to quit sword training?”
“Why would I?”
Moreover, he asked if I’d stop. There was no way I’d do that. I stopped swinging and denied it.
“I didn’t get tired of it? I’ll continue to master the path of the sword until the end.”
“Until the end, you say… how long do you have in mind?”
“…At least until the dance party.”
Oh my, did I actually get tired of it?
Also, I had almost slipped.
However, it shouldn’t be a problem.
As I swung my sword and made a non-committal reply, my hands felt numb.
Before I realized it, my sword and the scabbard of His Highness Zafield’s longsword had clashed. Even though it was just at that level, I couldn’t get rid of the numbness in my hands. In fact, keeping hold over my sword was already difficult enough.
Will I be able to master this in 50 days…?
I suddenly felt depressed.
Without concerning himself with my grimace, His Highness Zafield continued.
“…The dance party, isn’t that next month? Is something going to happen at that time?”
I didn’t answer.
I couldn’t answer, but his assumption was correct.
I’d die that day.
Apparently, the one who’d kill me was His Highness Sazanjill. To be honest, I’d like to tell him about His Highness’ alleged assassination. But of course, I didn’t have any proof.
‘It’s god’s providence’—
—Yeah, there’s no way I can say that.
It didn’t matter even if the one who informed me was a saint or a deity. He’d certainly call a doctor under the assumption that I had hit my head somewhere.
Due to that, my only option was to smile and deceive.
Then—a noble lady’s smile.
As expected, His Highness Zafield understood that I wasn’t going to talk.
“Well, that’s alright. Still, isn’t there something more important than sword practice you should focus on? It seems that on our last break, my older brother went to a clothing store.”
“Your older brother…?”
I replied with a question… but, in truth, it was unnecessary to ask.
It had been a long-standing tradition for men to give dresses to their loved ones in advance for attending an upcoming party together.
At least one month was required to order for a satisfying dress. The more intricate the dress, the more time would be needed, and the better everything would be. While I was cultivating the soil with my parents, my fiancée was giving a dress to another woman.
…Of course, I hadn’t received any sort of invitation.
I had already expected that. Still, I my face hung down due to the overt feeling of estrangement. Then, His Highness, who sheathed his sword, gently took my hand.
“…If Lelouche is alright with it, would you like a dress from me?”
The implication behind his words…—
—It’s no good.
Despite how unreasonable my circumstances were, I was still the fiancée of His Highness Sazanjill. Even if my fiancé was behaving unreasonably, it didn’t mean I should do the same.
I tried to brush it off as a joke, but before I could, His Highness Zafield spoke.
“For now, why don’t we look into the kind of dress my brother ordered? He ordered it from a store the royal family doesn’t normally frequent. This is probably their first time receiving such a request. As such, the dress is probably still in temporary sewing.”
“That’s… even so…”
“It might help you prepare yourself. Don’t you want a better dress than them?”
His Highness Zafield raised the corners of his mouth, hinting, ‘It’s a women’s thing.’
“If you agree to accompany me on the weekends, I’ll not only teach you how to swing a sword, but also how to intercept them. How about it?”
“…Oh my, is it because of my awkward attempt at deflecting your attack a moment ago?”
“You managed to not drop your sword, at the very least. As such, it’d be better if I were to teach you how to avoid and deflect it. Besides, that way, I’d have a reason to touch Lelouche.”
His cute smile, which was full of playfulness, surprised me…
…I was caught in his pace.
Well, it seemed that he was intent on killing two birds with one stone. Besides, I also wanted to dress up properly until the end. As such, it was important to research the ‘enemy.’
“Will you join me?”
“Of course, leave it to this Zafield to serve as the escort of Lady Lelouche’s.”
His Highness Zafield playfully kneeled and kissed the back of my hand which was still holding a sword.
Cease this kind of behavior and act like a decent prince, already…
Even so, His Highness Zafield lifted his head and showed me a cheeky grin—I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
***T/N: :((( Bet Zafield is the only one who truly cares bout her.
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